Today, there were two bake sales hosted on the quad of my university. The republican group at my university hosted one bake sale, claiming to educate individuals on the “dangers” of affirmative action. Another group, a music association on campus, hosted a counter bake sale called “#IAmNotAQuota.” This other sale exemplified why affirmative action is a necessary practice, but moreover just provided a welcoming and kind space to sell baked treats and love others while letting them love themselves and their roots.
As soon as I got out of my first class of the day, I booked it to the quad to witness this all. The first sale that I stepped up to, #IAmNotAQuota, I was greeted with absolutely open arms, smiles, and greetings from a few familiar faces. I gladly bought some sweet treats, and talked with a few of the people who were selling them. I also was able to write a message that I felt was necessary to share on a white board and have my photo taken with it. It was amazing, as one member of the sales team handed me an array of markers and another team member held the board for me as I wrote. I wrote in Spanish, “mi identidad como mujer Hispana me da fuerza,” which translates in English to “my identity as a Hispanic female gives me strength.” It was an amazing experience and I was overjoyed by the support and love that I received there. One of my friends who was selling baked goods at this sale pointed me towards the other sale and sent me off with a supportive, “do your thing.”
Once I reached the other table, I noticed immediately that the whole sales team was comprised of White males, which I found to be no surprise at all. I am not bashing White males at all, I am not trying to discriminate as several of my loved ones are White males. But there is an undeniable privilege that White males are granted in society for simply being born White and male. The people surrounding the table were all racial minorities – myself included. The majority of the people conversing with the sales-men were African-American males, and then there was one Asian female, and myself – a biracial, Hispanic and Asian, female. To no surprise, the conversation was extremely un-productive. As I walked up, I asked why it is fair that White students had a systematic advantage in all of education. They turned the conversation around very quickly, trying to make it seem as though minorities have no challenges to face in the United States. They often asked, “what challenges do you face?” and after a very clear, and polite response they moved onto state that we get advantages because of affirmative action and White males are the ones suffering because of it. I gave countless examples of oppression that I have faced for being female and a racial minority, and they dismissed my experiences and those of the other people there immediately. One African-American male standing beside me asked, “how many times have you been the only White person in a room?” There was no answer from all except for one sales-man. He had the audacity to say that he visited a Hispanic mass at his local church, as if it was a service that he provided by being there. We then asked if there were any circumstances in which the event was not labeled for a certain race in which they were the only White person. They were silent. After one sales-man told me that his parents came to this country from Russia with little to nothing an they made their way, I told him that my parents also came to this country without a lot and made their way – therefore we should be united. He responded with, “exactly, that is the point of this sale.” I disagree that promoting unity is the point of the sale, as the prices for baked goods depended upon race and gender. They kept asking me the same question – to justify my struggles as a minority female – and finally, the guy next to me said, “did you listen to her already answer this question the last three times?” After five minutes, I felt the need to leave. The conversation was just going in circles. I thanked them for their time and left to call my mom and then write this post.
I am not saying there is anything wrong with being Republican. I am saying there is something wrong with discriminating against your brothers and sisters, (see my post where I exemplify this point, How I Will Respectfully Handle Trump’s Inauguration As a Democrat). Aren’t we all Illini? Aren’t we all Americans? I guess it will never be that simple. Keep on resisting and keep on being kind, my brothers and sisters. Keep on fighting for the rights of the oppressed and keep on educating with a smile on your face.